It took only one drive for Case McCoy to make his case for the starting nod.
After David Ash was benched due to three quarters of poor play, McCoy was inserted in order to provide a spark.
McCoy marched the Longhorns down the field for a game-winning 70-yard touchdown drive. It involved a timely fourth down conversion and a gutsy 39-yard pass to Mike Davis, in which he made an audible at the line telling Davis to run a double move instead of a streak. McCoy later capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to D.J. Grant, a throw that saved Texas from the abyss of perhaps its worst loss in school history.
It was a clutch performance from a player whose family has made a habit of pulling off the impossible.
“That McCoy magic came out and pulled it off,” offensive lineman Mason Walters said.
It was a heroic moment, but at least for now, it will be the only chance McCoy gets. Mack Brown again named Ash the starter, citing his strong performances throughout the year.
However, as effective as Ash has been – he has a 150.3 passer rating and a better than 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio – he has floundered in some critical moments. Notably, in his poor performance against Oklahoma (13-for-29 for 113 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions) and his disappearing act against a weak Kansas defense. Against the Jayhawks he went 8-for-16 with two picks and only 63 yards in three-and-half quarters of play.
“I was disappointed that I got a little frustrated in the game,” Ash said. “I’m not going to remain frustrated. That’s something I might have done last year.”
Therein lies the problem, it’s something he would have done last year. While, McCoy’s late comeback is something he’s done throughout his career. He just has a particular energy around him that his teammates are drawn to.
“Nothing surprises me with Case,” cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “He’s just a football player. He comes out and plays each and every weekend. He prepares just like he’s a starter. Seeing him throw those balls that last series, it’s something that you expect.”
Those expectations have been preceded by a number of gutsy performances that have bailed his team out of losses. He led the team to a win after Garrett Gilbert was benched against BYU last season, and commanded a last-second drive at Kyle Field which will forever live in Texas lore.
McCoy has a confidence about him that many quarterbacks lack. He might not have the size, accuracy, overall athletic nature or arm strength of Ash, but he makes up for it in moxie and confidence.
This is the reason he not only expected to start this week, but every week.
“I’ve expected to be the starter since I got here,” McCoy said. “That’s my goal. I didn’t come here to be a backup.”
But, that’s the role he’s been handed this season, and he will continue to do it well. He prepares like a starter and has grown into the backup role.
Last season he wouldn’t prepare as much as he needed to for games he wasn’t projected to start, and it showed in his performances. The Missouri game comes to mind, in which he went 3-for-7 for only 13 yards in relief of Ash. However, this season he’s been Texas’ super-sub, and it’s a role he’s shined in.
“I got thrown into some situations when I wasn’t ready, ended up losing the game,” McCoy said. “That hung on my head for a long time. I made a commitment to myself and my team that would never happen again.”
McCoy will continue to be Texas’ safety net, waiting for his opportunity to start once again. But, one things for sure, the next time Ash struggles the McCoy magic will be there to save the day.